Brooklyn Book Festival

I suppose this is where I apologize for not updating my website in months and promise I’ll be better, but given that I’ll probably just lapse right back into my bad habits, I’ll get to the point.  Which is: EVENTS!  Specifically, I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend, September 18th (Sunday), for two events and signings.  I’d love to see you all — and look, what a line up!  Peter Straub AND Joyce Carol Oates?!   Aaaaaaah!!!!

AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

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Brooklyn Historical Society Auditorium 
(128 Pierrepont Street)

1:00pm Otherworldly: By drawing the out-of-this-world, these comics share essential truths about humanity. Marjorie Liu (Monstress) writes comics about gore, sex, and horror–which reflect deep socio-cultural/historical inspiration. Tyler Cohen (Primahood) blends surrealism and memoir to explore what it means to be a queer person in a straight world (particularly as a parent). Gregory Benton (Smoke) illuminates the struggles of immigrant farm-workers in a graphic novella with ghostly elements. Moderated by award-winning author Ellen Kushner.

4:00pm Hearts of Darkness. A traumatized boy develops a sinister obsession with dolls; a man and his young lover take their fantasies in a chilling direction on the Amazon River; a teenage girl’s psychic link with a powerful monster puts them both in the crosshairs of otherworldly powers. Joyce Carol Oates (The Doll Master and Other Tales of Terror),Peter Straub (Interior Darkness), and Marjorie Liu (Monstress Volume 1: Awakening) discuss their latest genre-bending books that offer masterful glimpses of true horror, including short readings and a Q&A. Moderated by Charles Ardai, publisher, Hard Case Crime.

OddCon!

It’s my great pleasure to be heading back to Wisconsin as a Guest of Honor at Odyssey Con, taking place this weekend in Madison. I’m especially tickled because Brandon Sanderson and Margaret Weis will be there — and listen, if I get all fan-girl on Margaret Weis and start babbling like an idiot, please forgive me.  I can’t help myself.

I’m supposed to sign on Saturday, but really, I’m happy to sign anything you’ve got, whenever you can find me.  I’ve posted a cliff notes version of my panels below, but you can see the full schedule here, along with locations of the panels.

Hope you see you soon in Madison!

Friday 4 PM: Comics Panel/Writing for Comics
Marjorie Liu, Jennifer Margaret Smith (Monstress)

Friday: 11 PM
Urban Fantasy: World Retooling?
Matt Winchell (M), Erin Burke, Randy McCullick, Marjorie Liu, Alex Bledsoe

Saturday: 11:30 – 1 PM
Marjorie Liu Interview

Saturday: 2:30 – 4:00PM
Signing!

Sunday: 10:00 – 11:30AM
Medical technology and Medical Ethics.
Lee Schneider (M), Dick Smith, Marjorie Liu

Sunday: 11:30 – 1:00PM
Will Comics Ever Be Respectable?
Richard Russell (M), Marjorie Liu, Jennifer Margaret Smith

Information Love

Things I had to look up today (so far — the day is still young) for writing-related research:

1. loincloths (for women)
2.  kopi luwak (cat poop coffee; processed in the bowls of the civet and harvested from their feces)
3.  bears

This is all very, very tame.  I think most writers probably earn a spot on some government watch-list for our online searches; mine have included everything from making bombs to assembling guns, disposing of bodies, bull-riding, giving birth in the wilderness by yourself (I discovered there’s an actual reality show about just this thing, which is a little too much nature, thank you), how much sperm a dragon might produce, setting broken legs, determining how long it would take to starve on the open sea, various infectious diseases (such as lycanthropy), how many mice would it take to make a fur hat, mermaid sex, spontaneous combustion —  you know, normal stuff.

Google is magnificent for this sort of thing.  So are libraries and librarians, but some questions are more embarrassing than others.  From the list above, I think you can probably guess which ones I’d rather not discuss out loud.

All of which matters only because, as writers — and, hopefully, for non-writers as well — there’s no such thing as too little curiosity.  In fact, the more curiosity, and the weirder it is, the better.  You never know what’s going to be useful. And don’t wait until you have an idea, either. I love used bookstores (well, any bookstore), and prowling the non-fiction sections — history, science, etc — for all the fascinating and incredibly specific subjects that some lovely individual(s) researched the hell out of.  Whether it’s the history of salt or the class politics of shopping malls in Latin America, fill your head with information.  Read the newspaper.  Watch documentaries.

Research can spark inspiration, just as much as inspiration necessitates research.  It’s part of the fun of creating worlds and characters, and stories!

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Staying organized (and nostalgic)

I used to blog a lot more than I do now — I blame Twitter, of course.  It’s easy to jot down a quick message in 140 characters, and then I hate to repeat myself here:  it’s a bit redundant.  But today I was flipping through my first blog, Web Petals, which I started writing waaaay back in 2003.  Remember Livejournal?  I mean, Livejournal still exists and plenty of folks use it, but it’s been a while for me — and I’d forgotten some of the features I loved.  Like those fun icons that would go with my posts.  Here are some of my favorites that were always showing up at the blog.  Some of them I made, others I picked up from sites where designers posted icons for public use.

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Anyway, so there I am feeling nostalgic, and I stumble upon an old post of mine, back from 2009 — a New Year’s resolution. To get more organized.  It made me laugh.

My own organizational skills are notoriously bad. Dreadful. Pathetic. Crummy. Maybe sad. I do, however, have a yearly planner, because there’s too much going on not to make an effort. I make a list of all the things I have to write for the year, and then go through and mark the dates. I’m good at marking dates and making lists. I love lists! So much fun. I feel very productive. Especially when I get to cross something off. Give me a gold star for effort, baby.  Seriously, though — I need whatever structure I can give myself. I write a lot.

Not much has changed. I still love lists.  The difference after all these years, however, is that I’ve learned how not to be overwhelmed by my lists.  You can see above — I’d make lists for THE WHOLE YEAR.  I’d set deadlines for myself that I wouldn’t meet, and then get disheartened.  It was all with good intentions, but it wasn’t actually productive.

Now?  I make teeny bite-sized lists that are all about the present, the immediate future, no more than a week or two out — and it’s all part of a conscious effort to not feel overwhelmed.

This is my calendar (see below).  I’m not showing a page with actual lists because there would be way too many spoilers on it (sorry), but what I love about this calendar (a Lena Corwin Deskpad) is that it allows me to see the full week,  every day, all at once — and the columns aren’t big enough for me to go crazy with too much work.  I keep it small, I keep it essential.  Monday?  Maybe there’s a dentist appointment, an interview, and a certain number of pages I need to write.  Tuesday?  Could be more pages, plus a few emails I need to address.  You get the drift.  A little bit each day.

Some people have digital calendars — that’s cool.  I like writing things down.  Whatever works is fine, but keep it simple, especially if you’re someone who gets overwhelmed (like I do — and it doesn’t take much, trust me).  The hardest part about this job is that as writers we have to stay self-motivated — all the time.  Especially when deadlines are always around the corner.  Organization is part of that process, knowing what needs to be done, and when; trying to manage all the moving parts of being a writer.  I don’t always do a great job with it, but I keep trying to improve — and this calendar and my little teeny manageable lists are part of that.

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Guernica

The poet Lauren K. Alleyne interviewed me for Guernica, some time back in November, and we had a long, lovely conversation about everything from race, romance novels, Marvel, and more.

“I wanted to reverse that and tell a story with five women for every one man, and not comment on it. There’s no virus that eradicated men; the book is just not about them. Instead there are a ton of women running around, ruling the world, making war, having adventures. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but what’s been interesting is seeing how surprised people are at the amount of female representation in the book. I knew there would be some commentary that Monstress has a lot of women—I wasn’t actually being deliberately naïve—but readers have been really taken aback. They keep saying it’s “bold territory” that men aren’t the focal point, and this says to me that the only feminist stories we’ve been able to consume and tell are ones in which the patriarchy is still front and center. What has been made clear to me after seeing the response to Monstress is that we’ve basically accepted this civilizational lie about women that we don’t have agency, that women on average don’t make an impact on the world, that women aren’t really that important. That’s the great lie of patriarchy—and patriarchy won’t accept that the average woman has made this world just as much or more than its greatest men.”


 

Also, Fizzgig is my spirit animal. giphy1